What is the penalty for violating state firearm laws?
Under South Carolina state law, anyone who has or buys a handgun in violation of the state's laws that prohibit certain people from having handguns can be guilty of a felony. The punishment can be imprisonment of up to 5 years, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.*
The possible penalties for having a firearm or ammunition in violation of the state's laws that prohibit certain people from having a firearm or ammunition are as follows:
- It can be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both, if the abuser has a firearm while there is an order of protection against him/her;
- It can be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 years in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both, if the abuser has a firearm after being convicted of domestic violence in the second degree or domestic violence in the third degree (and the judge made the specific determinations explained here); and
- It can be a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,000, or both, if the abuser has a firearm after being convicted of domestic violence in the first degree or domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.**
* S.C. Code § 16-23-50(A)(1)
** S.C. Code § 116-25-30(B)
I do not have an order of protection against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?
Even if you do not have an order of protection against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime, South Carolina laws make it illegal to have a handgun in many other circumstances. It is illegal for him/her to have a handgun at any time if:
- is a drug addict or an alcoholic;
- has been declared mentally incompetent by a judge;
- is under 18 years old (with some exceptions for members of the Armed Forces or for those under the immediate supervision of a parent or adult instructor);
- has been declared unfit to carry or possess a gun by a circuit court or county court judge in South Carolina; or
- is a member of a "subversive organization."*
If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Safety Tips page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help. You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety. See our SC Advocates and Shelters page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.
For additional information on gun laws in South Carolina, you can go to the Giffords Law Center website.
* S.C. Code §§ 16-23-30(A)(1) & (B); 16-23-10(3),(4)
I've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?
Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.